Lupus, aka systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), is a complex disease in which the body attacks itself (autoimmune), resulting in a wide range of often debilitating symptoms. It is characterized by acute and chronic inflammation of various tissues throughout the body. One of the bright spots in the area of treatment is the number of natural remedies for lupus. Once someone has received a diagnosis, then it’s time to explore these natural options and discuss them with a knowledgeable healthcare provider who can help identify which ones may be the most effective.
What is lupus?
The immune system of individuals who have lupus produces abnormal antibodies in the blood, and these antibodies (known as autoantibodies) attack the tissues instead of foreign infectious agents. Lupus can appear in one of four forms. About 70 percent of cases are systemic lupus, in which a major organ or tissue (e.g., heart, brain) in about half of those affected. Approximately 10 percent of cases affect the skin only (cutaneous lupus), while another 10 percent is caused by high doses of certain drugs (drug-induced lupus). A rare form called neonatal lupus can occur in newborns but usually disappears completely within six months.
Approximately 1.5 million Americans have some form of lupus, and the majority of those affected are women of childbearing age. Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than are their Caucasian peers.
Symptoms of lupus
Although symptoms of lupus can vary considerably between individuals and from day to day, those generally recognized as typical include fatigue, pain and weakness in the joints, headaches, and a facial rash that often extends over the bridge of the nose and the cheeks (aka, a butterfly rash). Additional symptoms that occur can include fever, anemia, depression, dry mouth, mouth or nose ulcers, hair loss, chest pain, sensitivity to light, Raynaud’s disease (cold fingers and toes that turn blue), weight loss, and swelling of the hands, feet, legs, and/or around the eyes. Symptoms are the same for men and women.